For Immediate Release
Contact: Arthur Hernandez, Director of Development & Marketing
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Miami, FL (January 5, 2021) – Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) Co-Founder and Executive Director, Cheryl Little, will be retiring this spring after some 40 years of tireless dedication to the immigrant community in South Florida and across the United States. The search for Cheryl’s successor is underway, and AI Justice will continue to benefit from her good counsel and guidance during the leadership transition.
When Sisters Catherine Cassidy, Maureen Kelleher and Cheryl founded the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center (FIAC) in 1995, they never dreamed it would become a nationally recognized organization with the far-reaching impact and reputation of today’s AI Justice. Under Cheryl’s leadership, AI Justice has grown from an original staff of 10 and a $400,000 budget to a staff of over 55 and a budget of approximately $5.5 million. Since 1996, AI Justice has served over 145,000 immigrants from all corners of the world through its five legal programs, and the organization’s impact litigation and public policy work strive to ensure systemic change and create better conditions for all immigrants, their families and communities. From protecting Haitians arriving by boat on South Florida’s shores, to marching with Dreamers as they first gained their voice, to representing thousands of young children who would otherwise appear alone before an immigration judge, to pioneering work on behalf of trafficking survivors, Cheryl has been on the front lines of the immigration movement for four decades.
When talking about how far the organization has come, Cheryl is quick to recognize the hard work, talent and sacrifice of many people over the years who she credits with helping build the AI Justice of today, a Charity Navigator 4-Star rated charity. “Cheryl is known in national immigration circles as being a force of nature, a passionate advocate for immigrants and their rights and for compassionate immigration reform. But she is equally well known as an incredible mentor to so many, including hundreds of former AI Justice staff, fellow activists and advocates, a corps of pro bono lawyers, and so many more,” said Johanna Oliver Rousseaux, Esq., AI Justice Board President. “Cheryl has inspired thousands of people – clients, staff, and supporters alike – with her commitment to the immigration cause and her unfailing optimism, best summed up by her cheerful refrain of ‘Keep Hope Alive!’”
AI Justice celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2021, a monumental achievement that helped to solidify Cheryl’s retirement timing. Additionally, AI Justice has an incredible staff in place, led by a highly qualified management team that has shown remarkable resilience, creativity, and devotion to their mission. Cheryl shared, “Although this transition is bittersweet, it has been an honor to be part of such an amazing group. We all stand on the shoulders of the courageous immigrants who gifted us with their trust, strength and gratitude during their long and difficult journeys. Serving as AI Justice’s Co-Founder and Executive Director for 25 years has been the privilege of a lifetime, more challenging, fulfilling and humbling than I ever imagined. Our exceptionally talented staff and inspiring clients motivate me every single day.”
AI Justice’s Board of Directors has hired Marcum’s Nonprofit & Social Sector Group to conduct the search for a new Executive Director, and the Board’s Succession Committee is actively engaged. AI Justice is confident that a new leader will be identified to carry on the great work accomplished by Cheryl, the staff, and the organization and to transition into a new quarter century of Defending Justice and Upholding Dreams. Inquiries about the Executive Director position should be directed to Karen R. Schuler at Karen.Schuler@marcumllp.com. For more information on AI Justice, its legal programs, and its accomplishments, please visit www.aijustice.org or AI Justice’s social media accounts.
Americans for Immigrant Justice (AI Justice) is an award-winning non-profit law firm that fights for justice for immigrants through a combination of direct representation, impact litigation, advocacy and outreach. In Florida and on a national level, it champions the rights of unaccompanied immigrant children; advocates for survivors of trafficking and domestic violence; serves as a watchdog on immigration detention practices and policies; fights to keep families informed, empowered and together; and pursues redress on behalf of immigrant groups with particular and compelling claims to justice.